DON’T ASK WHICH ED TECH PRODUCTS WORK, ASK WHY THEY WORK

AUTHOR
Tara Garcia Mathewson

What makes educational technology initiatives succeed or fail? Hint: It’s not just the technology.

A new nonprofit, formed out of the Jefferson Education Accelerator at the University of Virginia School of Education, is embarking on an ambitious project to find the answer. The plan is to map out exactly what contributes to success and failure. And it’ll take tens of thousands of educators to bring a very blurry landscape into focus.

Right now, when a school is considering purchasing a new educational technology, whether it’s a device or a program, officials tend to research its track record. Did it work in other schools? But without knowing a lot of information about those schools, teachers and administrators can’t possibly make the best decisions, argues Bart Epstein, CEO of the Jefferson Education Accelerator, an ed tech evaluation and support venture at the university. Epstein said even if technology companies wanted to be helpful by steering prospective clients only toward the products that would be best for them, the fact is, they don’t have the information to do that, either.

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